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Potty Trowel.... What?
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(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Potty Trowel.... What? on 03/20/2014 21:11:02 MDT Print View

What is the point, advantage? I just grab a 1" diameter stick off the ground or use nothing, dig, dig, and use the heel of my shoe or boot and kick. Make a hole 6-12" deep and get it done. I am mesmerized why anyone would actually buy and use some kind of tool to dig a shallow hole. When I need to do some business, the last thing I want to think about is "where is my potty trowel"? I do use TP.... And I do use a small golf score card pencil on the JMT.....

Update, for more clarity, I'm taking about a big dedicated trowel, not a duel use item like a snow stake or the sort.

Edited by KalebC on 03/20/2014 22:52:49 MDT.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Potty Trowel.... What? on 03/20/2014 21:35:03 MDT Print View

Come bushwalking with me in Australia sometime, and try and use a stick or your heel...

Hard and/or rocky ground its easier.

Even in soft ground it can be a lot neater. Eg being able to get all the soil back in the hole neatly and making it look like you were never there...if you are pulling it out neatly to begin with that helps. In some situations its possible to cut a sod from the top couple of centimetres, to replace on the top of the rest of the soil afterwards.

I always put the soil back in using my bare hands. Good way to "clean" them in case you happened to get anything on them. Then just wash with water afterwards.

Kevin S.
Yes on 03/20/2014 21:38:32 MDT Print View

On the other hand, when I have to go, I don't want to spend time looking for a stick sturdy enough to dig a hole In dry ground, or ground soft enough to dig my heel into. My qiwiz trowel weighs about 16 grams, and is a multi use tool. I've used it to stir hot coals, a more sturdy stake in soft/sandy ground, a tool to pick up and examine random bugs and spiders, as well as just to dig when needed (not just catholes).

I just think this is one piece of equipment that a responsible trail hiker will have (or at least something that serves the given purpose readily available). I have also heard of rangers checking in some national parks as well, to make sure hikers are carrying trowels. After stepping in a few unburied piles, I am glad they are checking.

Edited by kstephens on 03/20/2014 21:39:19 MDT.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Weird on 03/20/2014 21:56:19 MDT Print View

I have never seen ground I can't dig with natural resources or the end of my heel or Ti spoon or tent stakes. And I doubt any national parks will ever require people bring trowels, sounds crazy to me.sorry, but I don't see myself ever using a trowel, I've been backpacking for 18 years and have never considered one.

See many potty trowels on people's gear lists? Joe's? Skurka's? Here at BPL gear lists?

Edited by KalebC on 03/20/2014 22:06:10 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Potty Trowel.... Of Course! on 03/20/2014 22:04:55 MDT Print View

I'd love to see a video of someone digging an 6-12" deep hole with the heel of their trail runners. Pick your soil type.

The advantage is ease, speed, and accuracy. My shoes also last longer. My CA campfire permit states that I must carry a shovel.

Hope you don't run into a d*ck ranger on a bad day. That would be the sh*&!

I will say that I am amazed at how much money people are willing to spend on a trowel though. Sh*% for brains perhaps? :)

OK I'm done.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Potty Trowel.... You do! on 03/20/2014 22:08:55 MDT Print View

So you do use a tool instead of your shoe at times. Thought so. My trowel is my extra stake. It's a trowel first though by design.

gear lists. fictional representations of what gets carried.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
OK on 03/20/2014 22:10:50 MDT Print View

Soil type will be sand

8 seconds flat, no video needed

How about a survey?

If you use a potty trowel post Yea, if not Nay

For more clarity, I'm taking about a big dedicated trowel, not a duel use item like a snow stake or the sort, which I agree is a good idea

Edited by KalebC on 03/20/2014 22:52:01 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Potty Trowel.... What? on 03/20/2014 22:12:00 MDT Print View

Many places in the Sierra and extreme southern Cascades, I do need a trowel and then it can be tough to dig deep enough. If having any sort of fire (stove, campfire etc.) you may need a trowel or shovel per campfire permit regs. There was a thread a year ago on the interpretation of wording on permits.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Trowel on 03/20/2014 22:17:11 MDT Print View

As discussed previously, the long SMC aluminum snow stake with holes makes an excellent trowel or an even better tent stake.

In fact, I was just eyeballing a new one at the store yesterday, anodized and all that, $1.95.

Now I know what I can squander my REI dividend check on.


Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Trowel on 03/20/2014 22:42:12 MDT Print View

+1 On the Snow Stake

That is what I have used in the Sierras....plenty strong, light, and cheap.

Duel use, but I have never needed to use it as a tent stake.

Thick and sturdy stick might do the job, but when I need to go, I NEED TO GO!


spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Trowel on 03/20/2014 22:53:31 MDT Print View

Yes, I do. It took only one trip messing around with sticks and stakes to decide it was "stupid light." I'm not going to fart around with an inadequate tool when I can use the right one and be on my way that much sooner. Environments where a trowel is not a substantial improvement are quite limited. Like Ken, I question if people digging with sticks and sneaker heels do as good a job getting a deep hole as they claim. My bright colored jacket might be an eyesore, but waste disposal is a part of LNT I take seriously.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Potty Trowel.... What? on 03/20/2014 23:33:56 MDT Print View

Just yesterday I was camping on soil that needed a pretty good size rock to bang a Y peg into it.
Good luck using a stick or your boots there.
Mind you about 50 meters away I could have camped on sand because the river was dry but not a nice idea to defecate there....(besides snakes and goats use that area)
Same on snow, you should really dig under the snow and into the soil (if possible...)
Anyway there are plenty of soil types where digging with a stick or boot is not possible or practical and that is why like many I have a snow/sand stake with me.
But yes, the non multi purpose trowel only is not the type used by most here.

Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Not ashamed to be a trowel user on 03/21/2014 05:06:53 MDT Print View

I'm sure some of you guys are tougher than me, but in most of the Hoosier NF I can't manage a 6" hole with a stick or my heel. Too many rocks and roots, soil too packed. I've gone the snow stake route, and that doesn't play well with my arthritis either. So yeah, I use a trowel. But then, I'm willing to pay the weight penalty to carry a harmonica too. Maybe they both fall into the "luxury" bucket.

Hm, I wonder if someone could make a harmonica with a scoop built into the end...

Mike Whitesell
(madgoat) - F

Locale: Ohio
where? on 03/21/2014 05:23:23 MDT Print View

I might be able to get by with a stick or a boot heel or a rock in certain types of soil/sand.

I do most of my hiking in the smokies though. Good luck getting a stick or a shoe to put a 6" hole in rocky soil that is riddled with roots. Glad that the OP can get by with a stick, but I for one prefer to carry a trowel.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Re: where? on 03/21/2014 06:30:39 MDT Print View

In the woodlands of Illinois it's easy to get a 6-10" deep hole using the heel of a boot.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Yes, Trowel on 03/21/2014 08:43:53 MDT Print View

Here in the deserts of CA and AZ the ground is usually very hard, sticks can be scarce. Rocks are plentiful but lousy for digging such hard earth. Yes I carry a MYOG trowel, the aluminum cost $1, and the weight is 0.7 oz. Doubles as a hefty tent stake.

Band it to my TP roll and it rides top of pack, there's no drama finding it. Unless you have very soft earth, why would you NOT carry a trowel / dig-capable tent stake? 0.7 oz too heavy, $1 too expensive, don't need tent stakes?


Edited by Bolster on 03/21/2014 10:40:55 MDT.

McDowell Crook
(mcdcrook) - M

Locale: Southeast
check it on 03/21/2014 08:56:11 MDT Print View

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: Potty Trowel.... What? on 03/22/2014 00:05:36 MDT Print View

'Course it depends on where you are, but 6" deep with a boot heel...that would often get you to the ground around here, but when you get to it, it's often rooty and/or rocky, and you won't get an inch further. Like making camp, site selection makes a big difference, but you don't always have the luxury of choosing the time and place.
I use a trowel, and a pretty heavy one at that, having twice broken composite ones on their first use.

Brad A
(bradmacmt) - F

Locale: Montana
Re: Yes, Trowel on 03/22/2014 08:04:17 MDT Print View

"I carry a MYOG trowel, the aluminum cost $1, and the weight is 0.7 oz. Doubles as a hefty tent stake."

Hey Delmar/Bolster, that's a terrific design my friend... can you give more details about its construction?

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Thanks on 03/22/2014 08:47:30 MDT Print View

Hi Brad, thanks!

That trowel, "Deca Spades," is discussed in the MYOG subforum: